Place:California, United States

Alt namesCAsource: Webster's Geographical Dictionary (1988) p 1256
Coordinates37°N 119°W
Located inUnited States     (1850 - )
Contained Places
Stockton Rural Cemetery in San Joaquin
Alameda ( 1858 - )
Alpine ( 1864 - )
Amador ( 1854 - )
Butte ( 1850 - )
Calaveras ( 1850 - )
Colusa ( 1850 - )
Contra Costa ( 1850 - )
Del Norte ( 1857 - )
El Dorado ( 1850 - )
Fresno ( 1856 - )
Glenn ( 1891 - )
Humboldt ( 1853 - )
Imperial ( 1907 - )
Inyo ( 1866 - )
Kern ( 1866 - )
Kings ( 1893 - )
Lake ( 1861 - )
Lassen ( 1864 - )
Los Angeles ( 1850 - )
Madera ( 1893 - )
Marin ( 1850 - )
Mariposa ( 1850 - )
Mendocino ( 1850 - )
Merced ( 1855 - )
Modoc ( 1874 - )
Mono ( 1861 - )
Monterey ( 1850 - )
Napa ( 1850 - )
Nevada ( 1851 - )
Orange ( 1889 - )
Placer ( 1851 - )
Plumas ( 1854 - )
Riverside ( 1893 - )
Sacramento ( 1850 - )
San Benito ( 1874 - )
San Bernardino ( 1853 - )
San Diego ( 1850 - )
San Francisco ( 1850 - )
San Joaquin ( 1850 - )
San Luis Obispo ( 1850 - )
San Mateo ( 1856 - )
Santa Barbara ( 1850 - )
Santa Clara ( 1850 - )
Santa Cruz ( 1850 - )
Shasta ( 1850 - )
Sierra ( 1852 - )
Siskiyou ( 1852 - )
Solano ( 1850 - )
Sonoma ( 1850 - )
Stanislaus ( 1854 - )
Sutter ( 1850 - )
Tehama ( 1856 - )
Trinity ( 1850 - )
Tulare ( 1852 - )
Tuolumne ( 1850 - )
Ventura ( 1872 - )
Yolo ( 1850 - )
Yuba ( 1850 - )
Former county
Klamath ( 1851 - )
Inhabited place
Central Valley
Gold Beach
Palos Verdes Estates
Slab City
Vandenberg Airforce Base
Angel Island
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second and fifth most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

California's $2.9 trillion economy is larger than that of any other state, larger than those of Texas and Florida combined, and the largest sub-national economy in the world. If it were a country, California would be the 5th largest economy in the world (larger than the United Kingdom, France, or India), and the 36th most populous . The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and third-largest urban economies ($1.253 trillion and $907 billion respectively ), after the New York metropolitan area. The San Francisco Bay Area PSA had the nation's highest GDP per capita in 2017 (~$94,000) among large PSAs,[1] and is home to three of the world's ten largest companies by market capitalization and four of the world's ten richest people.

California is considered a global trendsetter in popular culture, innovation, environmentalism and politics. It is considered the origin of the American film industry, the hippie counterculture, fast food, the Internet, and the personal computer, among others. The San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Los Angeles Area are widely seen as global centers of the technology and entertainment industries, respectively. California has a very diverse economy: 58% of the state's economy is centered on finance, government, real estate services, technology, and professional, scientific and technical business services. Although it accounts for only 1.5% of the state's economy,[2] California's agriculture industry has the highest output of any U.S. state.

California is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada and Arizona to the east, and the Mexican state of Baja California to the south (with the coast being on the west). The state's diverse geography ranges from the Pacific Coast in the west to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the east, and from the redwoodDouglas fir forests in the northwest to the Mojave Desert in the southeast. The Central Valley, a major agricultural area, dominates the state's center. Although California is well-known for its warm Mediterranean climate, the large size of the state results in climates that vary from moist temperate rainforest in the north to arid desert in the interior, as well as snowy alpine in the mountains. Over time, drought and wildfires have become more pervasive features.

What is now California was first settled by various Native Californian tribes before being explored by a number of European expeditions during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish Empire then claimed it as part of Alta California in their New Spain colony. The area became a part of Mexico in 1821 following its successful war for independence but was ceded to the United States in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. The western portion of Alta California then was organized and admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. The California Gold Rush starting in 1848 led to dramatic social and demographic changes, with large-scale emigration from the east and abroad with an accompanying economic boom.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The first inhabitants

Settled by successive waves of arrivals during the last 10,000 years, California was one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas in pre-Columbian North America. Various estimates of the native population range from 100,000 to 300,000. The Indigenous peoples of California included more than 70 distinct groups of Native Americans, ranging from large, settled populations living on the coast to groups in the interior. California groups also were diverse in their political organization with bands, tribes, villages, and on the resource-rich coasts, large chiefdoms, such as the Chumash, Pomo and Salinan. Trade, intermarriage and military alliances fostered many social and economic relationships among the diverse groups.

Colonial and Spanish periods

The first European to explore the coast as far north as the Russian River was a Spanish sailing expedition, led by Spanish captain Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, in 1542. Some 37 years later English explorer Francis Drake also explored and claimed an undefined portion of the California coast in 1579. Spanish traders made unintended visits with the Manila galleons on their return trips from the Philippines beginning in 1565.[3] The first Asians to set foot on what would be the United States occurred in 1587, when Filipino sailors arrived in Spanish ships at Morro Bay.[4] Sebastián Vizcaíno explored and mapped the coast of California in 1602 for New Spain.

Despite the on-the-ground explorations of California in the 16th century, Rodríguez's idea of California as an island persisted. That depiction appeared on many European maps well into the 18th century.

After the Portolà expedition of 1769–70, Spanish missionaries began setting up 21 California Missions on or near the coast of Alta (Upper) California, beginning in San Diego. During the same period, Spanish military forces built several forts (presidios) and three small towns (pueblos). The San Francisco Mission grew into the city of San Francisco, and two of the pueblos grew into the cities of Los Angeles and San Jose. Several other smaller cities and towns also sprang up surrounding the various Spanish missions and pueblos, which remain to this day.

The Spanish colonization began decimating the natives through epidemics of various diseases for which the indigenous peoples had no natural immunity, such as measles and diphtheria. The establishment of the Spanish systems of government and social structure, which the Spanish settlers had brought with them, also technologically and culturally overwhelmed the societies of the earlier indigenous peoples.

During this same period, Russian ships also explored along the California coast and in 1812 established a trading post at Fort Ross. Russia's early 19th-century coastal settlements in California were positioned just north of the northernmost edge of the area of Spanish settlement in San Francisco Bay, and were the southernmost Russian settlements in North America. The Russian settlements associated with Fort Ross were spread over an area stretching from Point Arena to Tomales Bay.

California under Mexican rule

In 1821, the Mexican War of Independence gave Mexico (including California) independence from Spain. For the next 25 years, Alta California remained as a remote, sparsely populated, northwestern administrative district of the newly independent country of Mexico.

After Mexican independence from Spain, the missions, which controlled most of the best land in the state, were secularized by 1834 and became the property of the Mexican government.[5] The governor granted many square leagues of land to others with political influence. These huge ranchos or cattle ranches emerged as the dominant institutions of Mexican California. The ranchos developed under ownership by Californios (Hispanic residents native born in California) who traded cowhides and tallow with Boston merchants. Beef didn't become a commodity until the 1849 gold Rush.

From the 1820s, trappers and settlers from the United States and the future Canada arrived in Northern California. These new arrivals used the Siskiyou Trail, California Trail, Oregon Trail and Old Spanish Trail to cross the rugged mountains and harsh deserts in and surrounding California.

The early government of the newly independent Mexico was highly unstable, and in a reflection of this, from 1831 onwards, California also experienced a series of armed disputes, both between regional areas, and also revolts against the central Mexican government.[6] During this tumultuous political period Juan Bautista Alvarado was able to secure the governorship from 1836 - 1842.[7] The military action which first brought Alvarado to power had momentarily declared California to be an independent state, and had been aided by American and British residents of California, including Isaac Graham.[8] In 1840, one hundred of those residents who did not have passports were arrested, leading to the Graham affair.[9]

One of the largest ranchers in California was John Marsh. After failing to obtain justice against squatters on his land from the Mexican courts, he determined that California should become part of the United States. Marsh conducted a letter-writing campaign espousing the California climate, soil and other reasons to settle there, as well as the best route to follow, which became known as "Marsh's route." His letters were read, reread, passed around, and printed in newspapers throughout the country, and started the first wagon trains rolling to California. He invited immigrants to stay on his ranch until they could get settled, and assisted in their obtaining passports.

After ushering in the period of organized emigration to California, Marsh helped end the rule of the last Mexican governor of California, thereby paving the way to California's ultimate acquisition by the United States.

California Republic and American invasion

In 1846, a group of American settlers in and around Sonoma rebelled against Mexican rule during the Bear Flag Revolt. Afterwards, rebels raised the Bear Flag (featuring a bear, a star, a red stripe and the words "California Republic") at Sonoma. The Republic's only president was William B. Ide, who played a pivotal role during the Bear Flag Revolt. This revolt by American settlers served as a prelude to the later American military invasion of California, and was closely coordinated with nearby American military commanders.

The California Republic was short lived;[10] the same year marked the outbreak of the Mexican–American War (1846–48).[11] When Commodore John D. Sloat of the United States Navy sailed into Monterey Bay and began the military occupation of California by the United States, Northern California capitulated in less than a month to the United States forces. After a series of defensive battles in Southern California, the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed by the Californios on January 13, 1847, securing American control in California.[12]

Early American statehood period

Following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2, 1848) that ended the war, the westernmost portion of the annexed Mexican territory of Alta California soon became the American state of California, and the remainder of the old territory was then subdivided into the new American Territories of Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Utah. The lightly populated and arid lower region of old Baja California remained as a part of Mexico. In 1846, the total settler population of the western part of the old Alta California had been estimated to be no more than 8,000, plus about 100,000 Native Americans, down from about 300,000 before Hispanic settlement in 1769.

In 1848, only one week before the official American annexation of the area, gold was discovered in California, this being an event which was to forever alter both the state's demographics and its finances. Soon afterward, a massive influx of immigration into the area resulted, as prospectors and miners arrived by the thousands. The population burgeoned with United States citizens, Europeans, Chinese and other immigrants during the great California Gold Rush. By the time of California's application to the US Congress for statehood in 1850, the settler population of California had multiplied to 100,000. By 1854, over 300,000 settlers had come. Between 1847 and 1870, the population of San Francisco increased from 500 to 150,000. California was suddenly no longer a sparsely populated backwater, but seemingly overnight it had grown into a major US population center.

The seat of government for California under Spanish and later Mexican rule had been located in Monterey from 1777 until 1845. Pio Pico, last Mexican governor of Alta California, had briefly moved the capital to Los Angeles in 1845. The United States consulate had also been located in Monterey, under consul Thomas O. Larkin.

In 1849, a state Constitutional Convention was first held in Monterey. Among the first tasks of the Convention was a decision on a location for the new state capital. The first full legislative sessions were held in San Jose (1850–1851). Subsequent locations included Vallejo (1852–1853), and nearby Benicia (1853–1854); these locations eventually proved to be inadequate as well. The capital has been located in Sacramento since 1854 with only a short break in 1862 when legislative sessions were held in San Francisco due to flooding in Sacramento.

Once the state's Constitutional Convention had finalized its state constitution, it applied to the US Congress for admission to statehood. On September 9, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850, California was officially admitted into the United States as an undivided free state. Its status as a 'free state' prevented the expansion of slavery to the Pacific Coast, which was a foremost concern for the pre-Civil War US Congress. Within the state of California, Sep 9 remains as an annually celebrated legal holiday known as California Admission Day.

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), California was able to send gold shipments eastwards to Washington in support of the Union cause; however, due to the existence of a large contingent of pro-South sympathizers within the state, the state was not able to muster any full military regiments to send eastwards to officially serve in the Union war effort. Still, several smaller military units within the Union army were unofficially associated with the state of California, such as the "California 100 Company", due to a majority of their members being from California.

At the time of California's admission into the Union, travel between California and the rest of the continental United States had been a time consuming and dangerous feat. Nineteen years afterwards, in 1869, shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War, a more direct connection was developed with the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. California was then easy to reach.

Much of the state was extremely well suited to fruit cultivation and agriculture in general. Vast expanses of wheat, other cereal crops, vegetable crops, cotton, and nut and fruit trees were grown (including oranges in Southern California), and the foundation was laid for the state's prodigious agricultural production in the Central Valley and elsewhere.

Indigenous peoples under early American administration

Under earlier Spanish and Mexican rule, California's original native population had precipitously declined, above all, from Eurasian diseases to which the indigenous people of California had not yet developed a natural immunity. Under its new American administration, California's harsh governmental policies towards its own indigenous people did not improve. As in other American states, many of the native inhabitants were soon forcibly removed from their lands by incoming American settlers such as miners, ranchers, and farmers. Although California had entered the American union as a free state, the "loitering or orphaned Indians" were de facto enslaved by their new Anglo-American masters under the 1853 Act for the Government and Protection of Indians. There were also massacres in which hundreds of indigenous people were killed.

Between 1850 and 1860, the California state government paid around 1.5 million dollars (some 250,000 of which was reimbursed by the federal government) to hire militias whose purpose was to protect settlers from the indigenous populations. In later decades, the native population was placed in reservations and rancherias, which were often small and isolated and without enough natural resources or funding from the government to sustain the populations living on them.[13] As a result, the rise of California was a calamity for the native inhabitants. Several scholars and Native American activists, including Benjamin Madley and Ed Castillo, have described the actions of the California government as a genocide.

20th century

Migration to California accelerated during the early 20th century with the completion of major transcontinental highways like the Lincoln Highway and Route 66. In the period from 1900 to 1965, the population grew from fewer than one million to the greatest in the Union. In 1940, the Census Bureau reported California's population as 6.0% Hispanic, 2.4% Asian, and 89.5% non-Hispanic white.

To meet the population's needs, major engineering feats like the California and Los Angeles Aqueducts; the Oroville and Shasta Dams; and the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges were built across the state. The state government also adopted the California Master Plan for Higher Education in 1960 to develop a highly efficient system of public education.

Meanwhile, attracted to the mild Mediterranean climate, cheap land, and the state's wide variety of geography, filmmakers established the studio system in Hollywood in the 1920s. California manufactured 8.7 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking third (behind New York and Michigan) among the 48 states. California however easily ranked first in production of military ships during the war (transport, cargo, [merchant ships] such as Liberty ships, Victory ships, and warships) at drydock facilities in San Diego, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. After World War II, California's economy greatly expanded due to strong aerospace and defense industries,[14] whose size decreased following the end of the Cold War.[14][15] Stanford University and its Dean of Engineering Frederick Terman began encouraging faculty and graduates to stay in California instead of leaving the state, and develop a high-tech region in the area now known as Silicon Valley. As a result of these efforts, California is regarded as a world center of the entertainment and music industries, of technology, engineering, and the aerospace industry, and as the United States center of agricultural production. Just before the Dot Com Bust, California had the fifth-largest economy in the world among nations.[16] Yet since 1991, and starting in the late 1980s in Southern California, California has seen a net loss of domestic migrants in most years. This is often referred to by the media as the California exodus.

During the 20th century, two great disasters happened in California. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and 1928 St. Francis Dam flood remain the deadliest in U.S history.


1848California is given to US after Mexican WarSource:Wikipedia
1850California becomes 31st stateSource:Wikipedia
1850California first appears in censusSource:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990

Population History

source: Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
Census Year Population
1850 92,597
1860 379,994
1870 560,247
1880 864,694
1890 1,213,398
1900 1,485,053
1910 2,377,549
1920 3,426,861
1930 5,677,251
1940 6,907,387
1950 10,586,223
1960 15,717,204
1970 19,953,134
1980 23,667,902
1990 29,760,021

Note: California was part of the region acquired from Mexico in 1848, and was admitted as a State on September 9, 1850 with essentially its present boundaries. Although the 1850 census covered the whole State, the 1850 returns are incomplete; those for Contra Costa and Santa Clara Counties were lost before reaching Washington, and those for San Francisco County were destroyed by fire.. The 1850 total is incomplete; the returns for Contra Costa and Santa Clara Counties were lost before reaching Washington; those for San Francisco County were destroyed by fire. The State census of 1852 showed a population of 2,786 for Contra Costa, 36,154 for San Francisco, and 6,764 for Santa Clara; the 1852 State total was 215,122, excluding El Dorado County, whose population was not enumerated but was estimated at 40,000.. Total for 1890 includes population (5,268) of certain Indian reservations not reported by county.

Research Tips

Births, Marriages, and Deaths

There is an ongoing project to provide a statewide index to these records on the Internet through the BYU-Idaho Family History Center in Rexburg, Idaho, as part of its Western States Historical Marriage Records database. It can be searched at also has a marriage database for California at California Marriage Index, 1960-1985.

Divorce records are available in the office of the clerk of the superior court in the county in which the proceedings were conducted. Subscribers to can search the California Divorce Index, 1966-1984.

There is also an index of California deaths at Subscribers can search this index at California Death Index, 1940-1997. has a variety of collections available online for free to the public:

RootsWeb hosts a free database of California Death Records, 1940-1997. It is searchble by name, father's name, mother's maiden name, birth year and place and death year and place. The parents name fields are not fully populated.

A more complete, but more difficult to use, database can be found at Vital Search. Records go from 1905 to 2000, but unless you pay a fee, you can only search by last name. They have scanned the actual index pages, which are fairly cryptic. You need to use the explanations provided on the site to decipher the columns and the county of death.

VitalSearch also has Birth Records 1905-1995.

Research Guides

Outstanding guide to California family history and genealogy (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, wills, deeds, county records, archives, Bible records, cemeteries, churches, censuses, directories, immigration lists, naturalizations, maps, history, newspapers, and societies.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at California. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.